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Walsh available for second round after ban reduced

Vodafone Warriors fullback Reece Walsh will now miss only the club’s season-opening clash against St George Illawarra after having his suspension reviewed.

The 19-year-old will now be available for selection for the second-round match against Gold Coast on March 19.

Walsh was originally due to miss the first two rounds of the season through two separate suspensions.

He received a one-match ban for becoming involved in a melee in the Vodafone Warriors’ last match of the 2021 season against the Titans and was also suspended after he was arrested for possession of cocaine in late September.

Both Walsh and Melbourne hooker Brandon Smith (who faced a one-match ban for an off-field incident last season) missed the February 12 All Stars fixture at CommBank Stadium as it was believed they were ineligible.

However, the Vodafone Warriors and the Storm applied for the game to count after NRL judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew ruled that the match be included in Latrell Mitchell’s suspension  

Mitchell has been a key member of the Indigenous All Stars team in recent seasons and Bellew accepted the submission by South Sydney officials that the game be classified as a representative match and should therefore count toward the star fullback’s five-match ban.

With the Vodafone Warriors and the Storm arguing that Smith and Walsh also would have been selected in the All Stars match if they had been available, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo used his discretionary powers to align suspensions imposed by the integrity unit with Bellew’s ruling.

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